Women’s Soccer completed the 2016 season with their twelfth St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Championship.
The team began the 2016 season with hope of continuing conference success. The confidence among players and coaches remained high despite a 1-5 record in September, head coach Luigi Scire said.
The next 14 games of the regular season and conference tournament resulted in a 12-2 record and the twelfth SLIAC championship in school history. Scire said the adversity to overcome the early season difficulties was a testament to the team’s true commitment to succeeding.
“We faced some adversity in September and they, as a collective unit, decided to make something positive out of that adversity we were having,” Scire said. “You can go one of two ways when you’re facing adversity. You can either have a team tear itself apart or you have a team come together and become even stronger, closer and committed to that ultimate goal of winning the conference and getting to the NCAA Tournament.”
The Gorloks finished the 2016 season with a 13-8 overall record. The team lost in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Division III Championship tournament, 6-0, to the University of Chicago Maroons.
Junior forward Kayla Dye said the preseason struggles early in the season that led to the 1-5 starting record were not characteristic of how talented the team was this season.
“It was hard for me, personally, and us as a team, because we only lost five games last season,” Dye said. “This year, we already lost five of our first six. We kept talking about the adversity; none of us had ever gone through this. We would constantly ask ourselves ‘what are we doing wrong?’”
Senior forward Allison Ferguson agreed and said the team’s ability to persevere through the rough preseason, and maintain high confidence going into conference play, was telling of the team’s undying will to never give up.
“We definitely experienced a little bit of adversity during the September preseason, so that was kind of rough,” Ferguson said. “We were able to pull ourselves together and come up strong for conference. Being able to bounce back from the rough preseason and have the confidence to go into conference, the way we did, and go 9-0, was amazing.”
The Gorloks amassed an undefeated record against conference opponents in 2016, capped off with the program’s twelfth SLIAC Championship after defeating rival Fontbonne, 2-1, Nov. 4. Scire said the battles against conference opponents this season brought out the best in the team’s character and resiliency.
“They prepared hard for each one of the conference teams,” Scire said. “We have respect for every team in the conference; we took no one lightly. We knew that every game was going to be a battle and they came, fully prepared, game in and game out, throughout the conference season and had a tremendous run in October into November.”
Scire also said the conference games against Spalding and Westminster late in the season were pivotal to the Gorloks’ ability to maintain consistency on the offensive and defensive ends. These two games were a testament to the team’s determination to hold the number one seed in the conference, which carried their confidence into the tournament.
“The Westminster game, when we went down to Westminster and beat them 5-0, was our best team performance,” Scire said. “Everything was clicking in that game, just like the Spalding game. Both were based on overall performance; great defense turned into great offense.”
Dye said the victory against Westminster served as redemption for the disappointing tournament loss, last season.
“I would say the biggest statement game we had was definitely our game against Westminster because that is the team we lost to in the tournament last season,” Dye said. “When we played them this year, we best them 5-0 and I think that was a major statement because we were able to redeem ourselves against the team we lost to last year. We were kind of on a high after that.”
Ferguson said both games against Fontbonne were important to her because of the team’s ability to come through and pull out close victories in tight games against a rival opponent.
Despite losing three seniors vital to the team’s performances over the last four seasons, the future is bright for a program with the majority of its players coming back, Scire said.
“Heading into 2017, I think that experience, the knowledge of having gone through it, will make the players stronger and more confident, going into those non-conference games in September,” Scire said. “There are some big shoes to fill, up top, with Allie [Ferguson] and some big shoes to fill, in the middle, with Jodi [Kaiping], but we will continue to have success in 2017 if the players stay focused, committed and do their work during the offseason.”